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New Norfolk Area Coordinator widens Shoebox Appeal 

Trish Ellse, from Wymondham, is Norfolk’s new Area Coordinator for Operation Christmas Child, with a vision to build on the project which last year facilitated 9,000 shoeboxes donated from Norfolk, to be given as unconditional gifts to children in Central Asia and the Ukraine.

In August Trish Ellse, a member of Alive Church in Wymondham, became the Area Coordinator for Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child in Norfolk with the aim of mobilising more volunteers and increasing awareness of what happens when children across the world receive their gift laden shoebox.   

Before becoming the Area Coordinator, Trish volunteered as Norfolk’s Prayer Mobility Coordinator for Operation Christmas Child but she felt a desire to do more.  Trish prayed about the decision to take on the Area Coordinator role and despite working full-time at a local manufacturing business, she knew it was God’s call.  “That is where God wanted me to go”, she said. “It is all God’s plan, his gifting and my heart is for the work that they do”.

Now Trish is keen to increase awareness of the whole project.  She said: “I’d like to get the message across that giving a shoebox really is as simple as giving an unconditional gift of love for a child.” 

Trish explained: “Samaritan’s Purse works with local churches in countries that the shoeboxes are distributed in, and they invite children of all races and religions, there is no discrimination, to come and receive a shoebox gift.  Once they have received a gift the children are invited to go on ‘The Greatest Journey Discipleship Programme’ with their parent’s permission.” 

“This is a fantastic 12 week programme where they get taught about Jesus and the Bible.  Often that in turn builds up the local church in that community.  Parents of the children are often also interested, through seeing changes in their children.  It is fantastic.” 

Last year 9,000 shoeboxes were donated in Norfolk and taken to children living in Central Asia.  Donations came from churches, schools and businesses, with one Norwich business collecting 400 shoeboxes in their first year of involvement.

Trish said: “The easiest way to get involved is to go to the Operation Christmas Child website.  There is a lot of information on the site about how to pack shoeboxes. As the collection week comes up in November all the collection dates will be on the website with the local drop off points.”

“If a church wants to get involved they can order leaflets online and then in January, we contact them to stay in touch.  Or they can contact me directly if they have any questions.  I’m always happy to help people pack shoeboxes.”

“We pack shoeboxes with our children and youth in church,” Trish said.  “It is a great opportunity for them to learn about giving back and being an influence in other people’s lives.”

During the collection week in November, a van will be hired to go around the collection sites picking up the boxes and taking them to the warehouse processing centres in Aylsham, Dereham and hopefully Wymondham where the shoeboxes are checked, sealed and packed into cartons ready to be shipped off.

Trish said: “We will need volunteers to help with the processing.  It would be great to get organisations and communities involved, to come down and pack the boxes into cartons.  There is a really good atmosphere in the warehouse.” 

“The shoebox destination location changes for regions each year so Norfolk shoeboxes might go to Swaziland, or the Ukraine or Zambia, which is exciting.  Once people have packed their boxes and paid their donation online they get a barcode to put into their shoebox. In January you get an email to say where your shoebox has gone. So it is exciting to find out the destination.”

Trish will be hosting a series of information events in Sprowston, King’s Lynn and Wymondham to build awareness of the Shoebox appeal and how to get involved.

All are welcome to go along to Sprowston Methodist Church, 5 Cozens-Hardy Road, Norwich, NR7 8QE on Monday, September 25 at 7pm-8.30pm and on Thursday, October 5, 7pm at South Wootton Pre-School, South Wootton Village Hall, 22 Church Lane, South Wootton, PE30 3L.

A prayer and information day will be held in Wymondham Abbey on Saturday, October 7 from 10am-4pm.  

Trish said: “If anybody does want any information or to volunteer they are more than welcome to contact me by email and I can point them in the right direction.” Contact Trish at trish@alivechurch.org.uk.     

Click here for the Operation Christmas Child website. 

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